[Editorial Analysis] Climate and consciousness

Mains Paper 3: Environment
Prelims level: Greenhouse gas emission
Mains level: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment & Disaster and disaster management.


• The policymakers and the public response to natural disasters, such as this year’s Himalayan glacier flooding that overwhelmed Uttarakhand, or the cold snap that paralysed Texas, narrate as “acts of God”.

• But cause for both events was not the hand of God, but human-made global warming. Unless climate change is tagged as a primary culprit, climate action will continue to falter.

The Effect of global warming across the world:

• The melting of the Himalayan glaciers that prompted the floods and landslides in Uttarakhand has the fingerprints of global warming.

• As glacier cover is replaced by water or land, the amount of light reflected decreases, aggravating warming a contributor to the sweltering heat in cities like Delhi and Hyderabad, or the epic floods in Chennai or Kerala.

• The United States has already witnessed many deadly avalanches since the beginning of 2021. Furthermore, the extreme cold weather in Texas,

• The double-digit negative temperatures seen in Germany earlier this year, is connected to Arctic-peninsula warming, at a rate almost twice the global average.

Greenhouse gas emission:

• India emits about 3 gigatonnes (Gt) CO2eq of greenhouse gases each year; about two and a half tons per person, which is half the world average. The country emits 7% of global emissions.

• For India, the third-largest carbon emitter after China and the United States, a decisive switch is needed from highly polluting coal and petroleum to cleaner and renewable power sources.

• China has announced carbon neutrality by 2060, Japan and South Korea by 2050, but India is yet to announce a target. The acceleration of hazards
of nature should prompt countries to advance those targets, ideally by a decade.

• The HSBC ranks India at the top among 67 nations in climate vulnerability (2018), Germanwatch ranks India fifth among 181 nations in terms of climate risks (2020).

Budgetary allocations:

• A vital step should be explicitly including policies for climate mitigation in the government budget, along with energy, roads, health and education.

• Specifically, growth targets should include timelines for switching to cleaner energy. The government needs to launch a major campaign to mobilise climate finance.

• A big worry is that the Uttarakhand government and the Centre have been diluting, instead of strengthening, climate safeguards for hydroelectric and road projects.

Disaster response:

• The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister of India, is the apex body for Disaster Management in India.

• Setting up of NDMA and the creation of an enabling environment for institutional mechanisms at the State and District levels is mandated by the Disaster Management Act, 2005.


• The climate adaptation needs to be a priority in India. India’s Central and State governments must increase allocations for risk reduction, such as better defences against floods, or agricultural innovations to withstand droughts.

• The global warming is still seen as a danger that lies over the horizon. So, while COVID-19 triggered the mobilisation of trillions of dollars in financing, the equally frightening climate scenario most be placed.

• Sustainable growth depends on timely climate action. For that to happen, policymaking needs to connect the dots between carbon emissions, atmospheric warming, melting glaciers, extreme floods and storms.

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